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How to Behave in a Bar…Part 1

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Drunk people do drunk people things. That’s pretty much the best way to describe what working in a bar is like. There are a lot of really great aspects to bar work like cash tips, meeting rad new people, getting laid, a flexible schedule  and getting well taken care of at other bars. But despite all the upsides, drunk people still do drunk people things. It’s just one of those universal truths like “the world is round” and “if it burns when you pee, go see a doctor”.

Working in a bar is a very different thing than working in the rest of the service industry. Your customers come in as regular, functioning members of society, people with husbands and wives and kids and mortgages and other things that real people have. But by the time they leave, half of them devolve into absolute fucking savages; they’re monsters functioning solely on basic animal instinct and impaired senses. Seriously, it’s like working with a room full of people with multiple personality disorders; you never really know how someone is going to comport themselves once they’re totally shitfaced. So this is a little guide on how to behave in a bar. For anyone who has ever worked in bar, I’m dedicating this piece to you.  For those of you who’ve never worked in one, please pay attention to the following so you don’t make an ass out of yourself. Feel free to leave your thoughts on this in the comments.

Act Like You’ve Been in a Bar Before


Unless you’re newly 21 chances are you’ve been in a bar before, so please act like it. The number one tip to behaving in a bar is this: make eye contact, know what you want, know what your friends want, have money ready, say thank you. It’s so simple that R Bar in San Francisco even put it on a shirt. Now why should you do this? Because we have 40 people trying to get our attention who range from perfectly polite to unhinged drunktard and we need to serve all of them in a timely manner. The quicker we get you your drink, the quicker everyone else gets theirs, which means the quicker we can get you your next drink. When you get to the bar and don’t know what to order, it makes you look foolish (really you’ve been waiting all this time and haven’t figured out what to order??) and it slows everything down. Same goes for when your drink order is staggered out depending on what drinks your friends are yelling at the back of your head. Help us keep things moving fast so we can get you drunk quicker so you can make poor decisions in less amount of time.

Don’t Act Entitled


We see you at your absolute worst. No really, we see you do terrible things like cry, puke and even piss yourself in public. We see you mumble garbage in attempts to get laid or to be considered anything more than garbage mumblers. You should never act like you’re better than the people serving you no matter where you are, but especially in a bar. We’re (probably) not drunk and will remember your face and make fun of you next time you’re in, fucking garbage mumbler.

Be Courteous


Just because you’re slamming back jagerbombs and high-fiving strangers who like the same group of grossly over paid athletes as you, doesn’t mean you get a pass on basic human decency. Say things like “please” and “thank you” and don’t say “Hey, lemme get…” Your mom may not approve of how wasted you get, but she’ll approve of it even less if she knew you forgot your fucking manners. Also, if you spill someone’s drink accidentally, buy them a new one. If you bump into someone, apologize. If someone bumps into you, accept their apologies. There are WAY better things to fight about then getting bumped into.

Drink Grown Up Drinks if You Want to Be Treated Like a Grown Up

Are you a teenager? No you’re not, because teenagers are not allowed in bars. So if you’re not a teenager, why are you drinking things that are bright blue or green? That’s like turning in a report to your boss with glitter on it. Besides the fact that these are not natural colors seen in the plant or animal kingdom (or even in the mineral kingdom of fuck’s sake), you’re doing a disservice to yourself by drinking those drinks. No matter who you are, you look like the 12 year old above when you them .Plus they are all sugar and will give you terrible hangovers in the morning. While Adios Motherfucker may be the best name for pretty much anything in the history of things having names, you still shouldn’t drink them. Blue drinks just taste like blue and regret.

Be a Good Tipper


This could really be an article all to itself, but I’ll try and make it concise. You want good service? Tip well. You ever had every eyeball in the room on you at once and every person who owns those eyeballs wanting something from you? That’s what it’s like working in a busy bar. You know how we choose who we serve next? People who we like and remember. You know how we decide who we like and remember? There is a hierarchy descending from people we like/remember most to least. Here it is:

1. Really incredible tippers
2. Person/people we are fucking.
3. Good friends.
4. Person/people we are trying to fuck.
5. Good tippers.
6. Other friends and acquaintances
7. Everyone else.

So you see, the better you tip, the more we will like and remember you and the quicker you will get served. At bare minimum tip a dollar a drink. If you don’t do at least that, don’t be surprised if everyone seems to get served before you.

Other Tips on Tipping:

Tip on Water: Getting you a water or a soda, or anything really, is still getting you a drink. We’re still giving you our time and attention which is what you’re tipping on.

Tip First: Wanna make a really good impression and guarantee you’ll get fast service? Give the bartender a $20 bill up front and say you tip first. He or she will always come right to you.

Tip Extra on Free Drinks: If the bartender buys you a drink, tip $2-$3, per drink, more than you normally would. Otherwise, no more free drinks for you.

Get off Your Phone: Are you texting me your order? Nope, because you probably don’t have my number. I’m not gonna come to you until you put that thing away. The longer you text the longer you’re gonna wait for a drink.

Got other suggestions on how to behave in a bar? Please leave them in the comments section below!

Please stay tuned for the sequel to this post. It will be equally hilarious and illuminating. 

last call

photos from: Phillip Duff, I’m 41, Lexicolatry, dreamstime, Daily Mail,

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

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